Legislation introduced to create regional ‘step-down’ facility plan

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New legislation has been introduced this week in the New York Legislature aimed at protecting nursing home residents in the event that there’s a second wave of the coronavirus.

“The fall’s coming. We don’t have a vaccine, yet, so we have to be prepared,” said NY Senator Sue Serino.

Serino has new legislation that would require the state Department of Health to create a regional “step-down facility” plan. If a nursing home resident contracted COVID-19, went to the hospital and was later discharged, they would be sent to a “step-down” facility until they’re no longer contagious with the virus, rather than straight back to the nursing home.

“We definitely need a separate place, and we need a plan now. We can’t wait, and we’re forcing this conversation,” Serino said.

Serino says the idea for the legislation is in part a response to the state’s order in March requiring nursing homes to re-admit COVID-positive patients. It was later changed in May

The State Department of Health released its own report over the summer that found the March directive was not a key driver in nursing home deaths, but the Department of Health has not released the data on the number of nursing home residents who contracted COVID-19 and died in hospitals. Those were counted as hospital deaths not nursing home deaths. 

“We have to be prepared. And in order to move forward, you have to know where you made mistakes so that they can be corrected, and this information is so important,” Serino said.

Serino also has legislation to mandate that the DOH post comprehensive reporting on that data. She’s also sent a letter along with Senator Jim Tedisco to three senate majority committee chairs and Senator Simcha Felder, who is a Senate Regulatory Review Commission member, to subpoena the DOH on the nursing home death data. A spokesperson for Senator Felder said he “has reviewed the letter sent by his colleagues and the Senators are currently in discussion as to their next step.”

NEWS10 ABC also reached out Wednesday to the Department of Health for comment and has not received a response.

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